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Concrete trumps steel in CO 2 stakes, claims research

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Less energy is used and less CO 2 produced during construction of a concrete bridge than a steel or composite alternative, claims a study to be published in the next edition of the ICE's Bridge Engineering journal.

Benaim director David Collings has drawn together data from real bridge projects to produce comparative energy and carbon dioxide footprints for steel and concrete.

His research suggests that the energy required to build a medium or long-span bridge will always be lower if concrete is used for the primary structural members than if steel or steelconcrete composite construction is used.

Steel Construction Institute manager of sustainability Michael Sampson conceded that concrete beat steel on embodied energy used during construction, but urged engineers to look ahead to demolition.

'Steel goes into other steel products; at best concrete will be crushed and used as fill, ' Sampson said.

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